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New York Giants

Jason Pierre-Paul trending toward a return to form next season

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 14: New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90)during the first half of the National Football League game between the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals on November 14, 2016, at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford,NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)
(Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has been taken apart and put back together more times than Mr. Potato Head. Yet, the oft-injured 28-year-old star was important enough to the team for them to extend his stay for four years with $40 million guaranteed.

It’s the right move for a Giants team that finally seems to be figuring it out on defense, and Pierre-Paul’s elite pass-rushing skills has been a major contribution towards that effort. His level of play is definitely trending upward two years after having his right index finger amputated from a horrific fireworks accident.

That 2015 season was a tough year.

He sat out team activities, the preseason and half of the regular season before he saw the field. Those last eight games were basically him trying to get comfortable playing with a damaged hand. He finished that season with only one sack and 26 tackles. That Pierre-Paul was clearly an imposter as evident by the resurgent season he had last year.

His hand didn’t hold him back in 2016 as he racked up seven sacks and 53 tackles in 12 games. However, he would miss the last four games and undergo multiple surgical procedures on his groin and abdomen.

“Bet you all didn’t know that,” Pierre-Paul told ESPN.com Thursday. “I think the best is yet to come. Like I said, I love this game. I wouldn’t trade anything for it. Still blessed to be playing this game. I’m just ready to bring it.”

It’s easy to see why there might be a bit of trepidation regarding Pierre-Paul’s new contract after all of those procedures. Multiple injuries are never a good sign for a football player nearing the age of 30. But he hasn’t blown out a knee or suffered a bunch of longtime debilitating injuries that would force the Giants to seriously consider moving in another direction.

Of course, that all could change if he goes down against next season. He is committed to not only making changes on the field but off the field as well to ensure his longevity.

“I’m older,” said Pierre-Paul. “When you get older, you can’t stay the same. You can’t eat the same. You have to change. Football consists of changing. You have to change things to get better. That’s what I’m doing.”

If he played all of last season, Pierre-Paul could have easily registered double-digit sack numbers. With his poise and confidence, there’s no reason to think he won’t hit that total when the doors to MetLife Stadium open this fall.

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